State Dept. Official Responds To Critics: George W. Bush Agrees With Me

A State Department spokeswoman on Tuesday responded to critics who mocked her suggestion that giving jobs to young men would prevent them from becoming terrorists by pointing out that former President George W. Bush said the same thing.

Marie Harf argued Monday on MSNBC’s “Hardball” that the U.S. “cannot kill our way out of this war” with the Islamic State terror group. Instead, she suggested going after the “root causes” that lead people to join extremist groups, including increasing job opportunities. Those comments were mocked by Fox News and several conservative news sites.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer gave Harf an opening to address those critics Tuesday on “The Situation Room.”

“When you said it’s important to find these guys jobs so they don’t become terrorists, explain what you meant,” Blitzer said.

“Where there’s a lack of governance, a lack of economic opportunity — President George W. Bush talked about poverty being one of the drivers leading people to extremism,” Harf replied. “Where they are lacking in these kinds of opportunities, we need to talk about how to make that different. How to help our partners around the world give young men in that vulnerable age group a different path in life, show them that there’s a different choice for them than joining a terrorist organization.”

Harf admitted that her argument didn’t make the best soundbite for combating extremism. But she called out her critics for running with a “gross oversimplification” of her comments by focusing on her mention of job opportunities.

She also told Blitzer that past military commanders have made the same argument, which she said might have been “too nuanced” for her critics to understand. She offered specific examples later on Twitter:

h/t Mediaite

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